First published in May of 2012, ‘Apocalypse Cow’ formed Scottish author and journalist Michael Logan’s debut novel.  The novel went on to win Terry Pratchett’s ‘Anywhere But Here, Anywhen But Now’ prize.  In June of 2015 the novel was followed-up with the sequel entitled ‘World War Moo’ (2015).

DLS Synopsis:
It all started in Glasgow when (somewhat unwittingly) a cow which had been exposed to an experimental virus that the government had developed as a powerful bioweapon, managed to get away.  The powers that be quickly enlisted security agent Alastair Brown to ensure that a lid was kept on the whole affair.  They needed to contain the situation pronto, or all hell could break loose.

Meanwhile at the McTavish & Sons abattoir where he works slaughtering the cattle, Terry Borders is nervous about one particular cow.  This particular cow has been sneezing and behaving aggressively.  And when his boss tries to show him how to handle the situation, Mr McTavish quickly finds himself on the receiving end of an enraged beast that’s absolutely unwilling to die.  The resulting pandemonium leaves Terry lying unconscious on the abattoir floor.  And that’s when, under the direct guidance of Brown, the government step in and burn the place down, killing everyone and everything inside.  But despite their most thorough efforts, that one cow had somehow still gotten away.  And now the virus was loose.

Fed up with the constant taunting in school from the thuggish twins who live next door to him, geeky teenager Geldof Peters decides that he really has no choice but to follow their demands and meet with them that night in the nearby fields to ‘tip some cows’.  But that night, Geldof and the twins find a lot worse than a bunch of sleeping cows in the field.  No longer are they docile creatures who they can push over for laughs and giggles.  Instead, the young boys are met with a field full of infected cattle, weeping with pus-filled sores and hell-bent on savagely mating with them, ripping them apart, or both.

Meanwhile the particularly inept young reporter, Lesley McBrien, has just accidentally intercepted an anonymous phonecall tip-off about the government’s involvement with the recent fire outbreak in the nearby abattoir.  As well as finding out that it was not just an accidental fire, McBrien is also informed that a viral outbreak of a highly contagious bioweapon that has also been accidentally unleashed in the area.  McBrien can’t believe her luck!  This one story could make her career.  But then the doubts come in to her mind.  Is this just a set-up?  Is this some idiot’s idea of a practical joke?  She decides that she needs to do a little bit of her own investigating before she goes any further with this (quite frankly) gigantic story.

But the government have twigged on to the leak.  They know that McBrien is snooping too close to the truth and must take actions to prevent her getting this story out.  And so they instigate her swift abduction.  They need to retrieve all copies of the recording she made from the tip-off.  And they need to do it fast.

Meanwhile, the virus is spreading like absolute wildfire.  No longer can the government control the problem.  Britain is quickly being thrust into a full scale epidemic, turning all of its animal population into sex-crazed, bloodthirsty, pus-weeping killers.  Only the birds and the insects seem to be immune to the virus.  Now mankind is no longer top of the food chain.  And Britain is suddenly the last place on Earth that you want to be...

DLS Review:
Logan has his tongue firmly wedged in his cheek as he embarks upon his colourful tale of a wacky bestial zombie epidemic.  Think Ian Rob Wright’s ‘Animal Kingdom’ (2011) meets William Kotzwinkle's ‘Doctor Rat’ (1976), meets any number of ‘ravaged Britain’ scenarios – a smirking offshoot of ‘The Death Of Grass’ (1956) to name just one.

Like with its pun-tastic title playing on the name of the classic film ‘Apocalypse Now’ (1979), the novel is laced from head to toe with comedy and light-hearted joviality.  Yes, there’s still a thick wedge of good honest post-apocalyptic horror at the base line of the novel, but built upon this is a monumentally over-the-top storyline with plenty of delightfully humorous Ben Elton-esque quips thrown in.

Characterisation is perfectly in tune with the feel of the novel.  Logan hasn’t gone overboard with detailing the lives and personalities of his group of principal characters.  Nor has he merely skimmed over them.  Instead, he’s got the levels just right, so the reader can feel engaged and connected with their desperate plight, yet at no point does the novel feel like its trudging through a quagmire of character history.

Oddly, the novel doesn’t really have a principal protagonist.  It certainly has a main antagonist – that of Alastair Brown – but instead the three characters of Geldof, Terry and Lesley collectively take up the joint position of principal protagonist.  This doesn’t hinder the novel in any way whatsoever, and if anything, strengthens the early intertwining plots, making for a thoroughly engrossing read.

What stands out particularly boldly about the novel is how delightfully and unashamedly British it is.  From the dialogue, to the decision making, to the savage squirrel attacks – the whole novel just exudes a real Britishness that can’t help but bring a heart-warming glow to all good Brits out there.

The novel does keep heading in a particular direction, with Logan always keeping his eye on the final goal; however the tale does still take the reader around the houses somewhat with an utterly riveting and adrenaline-pumping storyline.  There’s always something going on, some wild excitement, some four-legged danger or governmental body hot on their heels.  And it never really lets up until the very final few pages have been turned.

All in all, the novel is a non-stop rollercoaster of a tongue-in-cheek ride, with plenty of outlandish thrills and spills to keep all good post-apocalyptic fans happy.  Think over-the-top, think British, think zombie-animal-mayhem.  It’s a hell of a ride.

The novel runs for a total of 348 pages.

© DLS Reviews

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